July 25, 2011

Don’t spill the smoothie!

It’s fun to be a forager. Every July, I look forward to hunting for Rubus occidentalis berries. We have a modest plot of land with a double-wide “cottage” about an hour’s drive north of our home. On that land are enough berries to feed an average family every day through the month of July.

Are these berries ripe?

If you said “yes” you are incorrect. Ripe Rubus occidentalis berries look more like this:

We call them Black Raspberries, but they’re also referred to as black caps, thimbleberries, and various other common names. This entire plot is filled primarily with Black Raspberries:

But that’s just one spot. The place is overloaded with them! When you hunt for Black Raspberries, you might see an obvious patch like this:

Or you might have to hunt a little harder for a patch like this:

Even the damselflies like the canes as landing spots.

They’re so plentiful, in some patches they stretch on and on into the woods.

Black Raspberries are sweet! They’re tasty right off the vine (of course, I’d recommend washing them if you’re going to eat a bunch). But here are two favorite recipes using Black Raspberries:

1. Triple Berry Crisp
1 1/2 C. fresh Black Raspberries
1 1/2 C. fresh Blueberries
1 1/2 C. fresh Mullberries
4 T. white sugar
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 C. rolled oats
1 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 C. butter

(Berry substitutions work well. Sometimes I use just two kinds of berries, making sure they add up to 4 1/2 C.)
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In a large bowl, gently toss together all berries and white sugar; set aside.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press half of mixture in the bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. Cover with berries. Sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the berries.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.
5. Serve with ice cream or whipping cream.

2. Raspberry-Banana Smoothie (no sugar added)
1 C. shaved ice
1 frozen Banana
1 C. fresh Black Raspberries
1/2 C. water

Place ingredients in blender in order shown. Pulse blender several times to mix ingredients, then “frappe” or “blend” for several seconds until mixture reaches desired consistency.

Whatever you do, don’t spill the smoothieBlack Raspberries leave stains! But they taste oh, so sweet and delicious. Enjoy!


  1. We have these wild blackberries growing in the woods on our property and adjacent to our property. I love picking them, and they are so delicious. I may try the smoothie..yummy!

  2. Oh, that smoothie looks good! The wild blackberries here were ripe around May. My grandmother used to walk up and down roads harvesting them for her jams and pies and such.

  3. Envoius of your berry patch! The crisp and smoothie both look lovely!

  4. I spotted some in the woods behind our house...but wasn't sure if I could eat them. So how glad I am to see that YES! I should go pick em! Yummy. :)

  5. @Sage: We have wild Blackberries, too, which grow closer to the ground. The berries on this post are actually Black Raspberries. The animals seem to get to the Blackberries before we can, but it's harder for them to reach the Black Raspberries. So the harvest is pretty impressive on the latter.

    @Holley: Wow, May! That would be nice! What a neat memory of your grandmother. I bet the jams and pies were tasty!

    @David: Yes, both are very tasty. You can substitute different types of berries for both, although my favorites for the crisp are Blueberries and Black Raspberries.

  6. @Hanni: How fun! You might want to make a certain ID before you eat them. But if they look like the photos and they grow on canes and bushes, they're probably Black Raspberries. If they grow closer to the ground, they might be Blackberries. If they grow on trees, they're likely Mulberries.

  7. YUM!!! I have Chester Thornless blackberries but the birds eat them before they even turn black. If I want berries I have to go to the store! The crisp looks delicious!!

  8. I wish I could come over to your place and have some that pie and smoothie! They look delicious... I have not heard about this plant before, thanks for the story and pictures.

  9. Love the post/recipes on your beautiful piece of earth. Trust me, if hubby lived near, he would strip all before you even found a berry :) But if I lived near, I would keep him in check! Thanks for sharing.

  10. They look like what we in Ireland call Blackberries. They ripen in late August here and made a delicious jam.

  11. completely new to me as only the wild bramble blackberries are native here. Loved your images too aside from the tantalising recipes. The addition of Mulberry topped it as this is my favourite fruit.

  12. I love the sound of that smoothie, will have to remember it when I get to start picking blackberries.

  13. Hi Beth. I'd never seen black raspberries before! We also have a property on Italian Alps, but you can find only a lot of red raspberries in the neighbourhood! So thanks for sharing.

  14. Your recipes make picking berries worth it! Yummy on both.

  15. @TS: Yeah, Blackberries disappear for us, too, before they ripen. But the Black Raspberries seem to be in spots where the birds and small animals can't get all of them. A bear would have a feast, though. We think we might have had a black bear visitor recently.

    @Masha: Come on over! Any time you're in the area. Wisconsin is a great place to visit--May through October. :)

    @Joey: My hubby usually leaves the foraging/gathering to me. But that's good because he does the fishing and a lot of the cooking. That's neat that your hubby likes to hunt for berries.

    @Bridget: Yeah, we have Blackberries, too. I think there are a lot of similar berries, sometimes called the same thing. I found this great article on the topic from The Small Kitchen Gardener: http://bit.ly/oEQnO2.

  16. @Laura: I love Mulberries, too. Actually I enjoy just about any kind of berry. We have Black Raspberries, Blackberries, and Mulberries on the property. We just discovered the Mulberries recently. Yum!

    @Janet: Let me know how you like it! You might have to adjust the proportions of ice and water. Blackberries would work well, too!

    @Dona: Red Raspberries are delicious, too! You can use them for both of the recipes as well. The Italian Alps--must be an incredible place to visit!

    @Donna: If you try them, let me know how you like them. With the smoothies, you might have to adjust the water and ice proportions a bit. I just made another one tonight and added a bit of skim milk.

  17. My husband would be in heaven! His mother used to make black raspberry pie, and he's often asked me to make one. But black raspberries aren't as common around here; the only place I've found them is once at a farmers' market. That smoothie looks awfully good!

  18. Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed this post so much that I linked to it in the blog carnival (Berry Go Round) I'm hosting this month over at Beyond the Brambles!

  19. @Rose: Black Raspberry pie sounds great, too! I'll have to try it next year.

    @Kate: Wow, I'm honored! Thank you so much!

  20. I would LOVE to have that smoothie right now. It looks SO good.
    I have raspberries just coming on so maybe I'll make my own!!! Thanks for the inspiration and recipe.

  21. Love your field of blackberries! The reds are lovely as much as those black ones..Thanks for sharing the recipes, they sure look yummy and will substitute them for my mulberries!

  22. Yum...I am getting ready for bed and now I'm Hungry! Those recipes look delish...thanks for sharing. How nice you have so many bushes around. I haven't picked berries since I was a kid. How fun;-)

  23. These look very like the Blackberries I refer to in my post except yours don't seem to have thorns. Ours are very thorny but easy to pick as the fruit stands out from the vine and they tend to sit atop the hedgerows. I too use them in smoothies and crumbles and also in Blackberry and Apple jam which is lovely.